Sen. Rand Paul lambasted President Barack Obama’s nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, at a Senate hearing Wednesday because of her role in “horrendous abuses” of civil asset forfeiture laws while a U.S. attorney.
Civil asset forfeiture is a practice where police can seize your property and keep it even if they don’t convict or even charge you with a crime. Then, you must go through the expensive, bureaucratic, and often unsuccessful process to get your property–whether it’s a car, cash or your house–back from law enforcement.
“Loretta Lynch became famous for her Herculean confiscation of private property,” Paul, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, said at the hearing.
Paul said Lynch confiscated over $100 million dollars during her time as U.S. attorney using the process of civil asset forfeiture, a process wrought with abuses.
“When questioned about civil forfeiture, Loretta Lynch seemed to be unconcerned about the need for reform,” Paul said. “I think no one who listens to these horrendous abuses of our civil liberties should be not moved to think that we really do need reform in our country.”
Paul pointed to the Hirsch brothers, an innocent family business that fell prey to Lynch’s enthusiastic use of forfeiture laws.
“Lynch confiscated nearly half a million dollars from the Hirsch brothers who owned a family business in New York and held the money for nearly two years,” Paul said. “The Hirsch brothers were never charged with a crime, much less convicted yet, it took years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to get their money back.”
The Senate has held out on confirming Lynch, drawing criticism that they are playing politics with the nomination. On Wednesday, a group of Lynch’s supporters led by Rev. Al Sharpton announced they will hunger strike until Lynch is confirmed.
Lynch received some heat from forfeiture reformers earlier this year when during her confirmation hearing she called asset forfeiture a “wonderful tool.” (RELATED: The 7 Most Egregious Examples Of Civil Asset Forfeiture)
Paul has introduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act, a bill that would address abuses by requiring a criminal conviction before forfeiting property to the authorities.
The bill would also require that you be provided with legal counsel for the forfeiture hearings and that if money is forfeited, it is sent to the general fund instead of law enforcement budgets so that police are not motivated to seize property for personal gain.